WordPress 4.0 “Benny” is Available

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In case you didn’t catch the buzz, WordPress 4.0, named “Benny” after jazz great Benny Goodman, is now roaming the wild after some time in beta testing. Having played with the beta release, I had experienced some of WordPress 4.0’s new features, and I’m quite pleased with it after several upgrades of production sites over the last 24 hours. Here’s what to expect if you haven’t yet upgraded, or if you haven’t played with the new features yet:

Immersive, and Focused On Content

The process of creating and editing posts is now a more immersive one. The post editor scrolls to fit your content as you’re writing, which is actually quite an attractive feature. If you’re the type of writer who loves full-screen applications on your Mac (that would be me), this will be a similarly attractive feature for you, as we no longer need to keep up with the screen surrounding our content editing. Along the same line, the media library is now a more elegant experience, giving the user a sort of infinite scroll of images. There’s also an improved image attribute editor, mostly providing the ability to edit images in sequence.

Embed, Anyone?

This is something I’ve wished for in WordPress for some time. In WordPress 4.0, embedding video from external sources, or other content such as Tweets, now simply involves placing the embed URL into your post editor, and you will be greeted with a real-time preview of the embed with the rest of your content right there in the editor (after saving as a draft). No more previewing the page to make sure you got that video width correct.

Plugins. It’s All About the Plugins.

If you’ve ever built a WordPress site, you know how much time can be spent shopping for the right plugin to accomplish what you need. There have been times when it’s been quicker to build my own solution. WordPress 4.0 brings a new plugin screen to the user, providing more concise information to help you make good choices. The search metrics used to serve up plugin options is now reportedly improved, as well, which should bring better and higher quality plugins to the top of your search results.

New Plugin Screen in WordPress 4.0

New Developer Goodies

In addition to a cleaned up content management experience, there are a couple of under-the-hood additions for developers, as well. The WP_Query  object can now be used with order_by clauses, which will give developers a great deal more flexibility. I’m looking forward to working with this in an upcoming project.

The Practical: What to Expect

This update isn’t huge. If you’re expecting a completely re-vamped content management system after you click the upgrade button, don’t. These are nice feature additions for content, and definitely have the blogger and writer in mind. They’re not earth-shaking, but they make WordPress 4.0 an even more beautiful experience. The update took a bit longer than I expected compared to most other WordPress core updates, and I needed to log back in after the upgrade completed. As always, take the normal precautions: take a copy of your database and entire file system before pulling the trigger on this, but none of the sites I’ve upgraded have experienced any issues. If you’re running a caching plugin, dump all of your caches after the upgrade. Then, test your site thoroughly!  As always, updating WordPress core brings with it updated libraries, such as jQuery, TinyMCE, and others, which can cause problems if a plugin or theme hasn’t been maintained well. If you run into post-upgrade issues, or need help with the upgrade, feel free to drop me a line, and I can help you out.

This is a very nice upgrade for your WordPress site, and you’ll be glad you made the leap. Let me know about your experiences with Benny!


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